Dolphinarium discotheque massacre

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Dolphinarium suicide bombing
Part of the Second Intifada militancy campaign
The abandoned ruins of the Dolphinarium in 2012.
The attack site is located in Tel Aviv
The attack site
The attack site
The attack site is located in Israel
The attack site
The attack site
Location Tel Aviv, Israel
Coordinates 32°04′02″N 34°45′42″E / 32.06722°N 34.76167°E / 32.06722; 34.76167
Date 1 June 2001
23:30 pm (GMT+2)
Attack type
Suicide bombing
Deaths 21 victims (+1 bomber)
Non-fatal injuries
Perpetrators Islamic Jihad
Assailant Saeed Hotari
English inscription on the back of the dolphinarium massacre memorial

The Dolphinarium discotheque massacre was a Hamas terror attack on 1 June 2001 in which a Hamas-affiliated Islamist terrorist blew himself up outside a nightclub in Tel Aviv, Israel, killing 21 Israelis, 16 of them teenagers.[1][2][3] The majority of the victims were teenage girls, whose families had recently immigrated from the former Soviet Union.

The attack[edit]

Suicide bomber Saeed Hotari was standing in line on a Friday night in front of the Dolphinarium, when the area was packed with youngsters (most of them from Russian-speaking families) waiting for admission. Survivors of the attack later described how the young Palestinian bomber appeared to taunt his victims before the explosion, wandering among them dressed in a disguise that led his victims to mistake him for an Orthodox Jew from Asia. Before detonating his bomb, he banged a drum packed with explosives and ball-bearings, while taunting his victims in Hebrew with the words "Something's going to happen".[4] At 23:27, he detonated his explosive device.[5] Witnesses claimed that body parts lay all over the area, and that bodies were piled one above another on the sidewalk before being collected. Many civilians in the vicinity of the bombing rushed to assist emergency services.

The suicide bombing followed a failed attack attempt on the same target five months earlier.[6]


Dolphinarium Massacre memorial at the Tel Aviv dolphinarium site with the names of the victims written in Russian
Dolphinarium discotheque suicide bombing by Victor Brindatch oil on canvas painting size 100x130

One Israeli soldier and 20 civilians, the majority teenage girls whose parents had made aliyah to Israel from the former Soviet Union, were murdered in the attack:[7]


Both Islamic Jihad and a group calling itself "Hezbollah-Palestine" originally claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing, only to later retract the claims.[29] Later on it was revealed that the attack was carried out by Saeed Hotari, age 22, a militant linked to the Palestinian Islamist militant group Hamas.[30]

Official reactions[edit]

Involved parties


  • Israeli officials called the attack a "massacre".[31]

 Palestinian territories:

  • President of the Palestinian Authority Yasser Arafat condemned the attack and called for a cease-fire.[32]
  •  United Nations – U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan stated that he "condemns this indiscriminate terrorist attack in the strongest possible terms." and that the attack "underlines the urgency of breaking the cycle of violence".[33]
  •  Kuwait – The Kuwaiti Foreign Minister and acting Premier Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah stated that he does not support Palestinian suicide bombings against civilians.[34]
  •  United States – U.S. president George W. Bush stated that he condemns the attack in the strongest terms and that "There is no justification for senseless attacks against innocent civilians."[35]


After the attack many in the Israeli public demanded a harsh military retaliation; nevertheless, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon decided to not take any immediate retaliatory actions. US and other governments applied heavy diplomatic pressure on Israel to refrain from action.[32] Nevertheless, the attack was later on noted as one of the reasons cited by the Israeli government for building the Israeli West Bank barrier.[36]

In Ramallah dozens of Palestinians celebrated in the streets and fired in the air as a sign of celebration.[37] The bomber, Saeed Hotari, was praised as a martyr by his father.[38] President George W. Bush demanded that Yasser Arafat condemn the terrorist act.[39] The next day, Israeli-Arabs barricaded themselves in the Hassan Bek Mosque opposite the Dolphinarium site and threw objects at the police.[40]

According to the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, an Israeli-based organization with close ties to the IDF, among the materials seized by the IDF in the course of Operation Defensive Shield were two documents issued by the Martyrs' Families and Injured Care Establishment, which is under the authority of the Palestinian National Authority's Ministry of Social Affairs. The documents detail the transfer of $US2,000 to the father of the suicide bomber, who was living in Jordan at that time (18 June 2001). According to the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, the transfer was made despite the suicide bomber's Hamas affiliation, despite the father's public support of the suicide bombing attack, and despite Arafat's public condemnation of the bombing.[41]

The Dolphinarium site[edit]

Immediately as a result of the bombing, the Dolphinarium discotheque has remained as an abandoned ruin on the Tel Aviv beachfront, covered with graffiti - and has remained as such as of 2016. For years, family members of the victims have unsuccessfully campaigned to permanently preserve the ruined building as a monument to the attack, however, the site is currently up for sale to property developers.[42] Memorial services to the victims of the attack are held every year at the site by friends and family of the victims.[43]

The site of the abandoned Dolphinarium in 2012

See also[edit]


  1. ^ O'Sullivan, Arieh (25 November 2001). "No. 1 Hamas terrorist killed. Followers threaten revenge in Tel Aviv.". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 30 January 2009. 
  2. ^ Fisher, Ian (29 January 2006). "In Hamas's Overt Hatred, Many Israelis See Hope". New York Times. Retrieved 30 January 2009. 
  3. ^ Ynet – פיגוע בדולפינריום – ,; accessed 2 September 2015.
  4. ^ Chris McGreal,3,000 dead yet peace remains elusive,, 29 September 2003.
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Bloody Terrorist Attack in Tel Aviv – 18 Youth Killed" (in Hebrew). Ynet. 2 June 2001. Retrieved 4 May 2008. 
  7. ^ "List of Victims of the Dolphinarium Terrorist Attack". Embassy of Israel in Washington DC. 4 June 2001. Retrieved 31 January 2009. 
  8. ^ "Maria Tagilchev". GxMSDev. Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  9. ^ "Raisa Nimrovsky". GxMSDev. Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  10. ^ "Anya Kazachkov". GxMSDev. Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  11. ^ "Katherine Kastaniyada-Talkir". GxMSDev. Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  12. ^ "Irina Nepomneschi". GxMSDev. Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  13. ^ "Mariana Medvedenko". GxMSDev. Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  14. ^ "Yulia Nelimov". GxMSDev. Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  15. ^ "Liana Sakiyan". GxMSDev. Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  16. ^ "Marina Berkovizki". GxMSDev. Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  17. ^ "Simona Rodin". GxMSDev. Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  18. ^ "Alexei Lupalo". GxMSDev. Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  19. ^ "Yelena Nelimov". GxMSDev. Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  20. ^ "Irena Usdachi". GxMSDev. Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  21. ^ "Ilya Gutman". GxMSDev. Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  22. ^ "Roman Dezanshvili". GxMSDev. Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  23. ^ "Pvt Diez Normanov". GxMSDev. Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  24. ^ "Ori Shahar". GxMSDev. Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  25. ^ "Yael-Yulia Sklianik". GxMSDev. Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  26. ^ "Sergei Panchenko". GxMSDev. Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  27. ^ "Jan Bloom". GxMSDev. Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  28. ^ "Yevgenia Dorfman". GxMSDev. Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  29. ^ Bomb horror hits Tel Aviv disco Archived May 16, 2008, at the Wayback Machine., The Jerusalem Post, 4 June 2001.
  30. ^ "Bomber went to West Bank for a better life". the Guardian. Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  31. ^ Shalom, Silvan. "Q&A with Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom", Haaretz, 8 May 2008.
  32. ^ a b Deborah Sontag, "Arafat Calls for Cease-Fire, Deploring Tel Aviv Attack", New York Times, 3 June 2001.
  33. ^ Press Release SG/SM/7829 Archived June 9, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.,, 1 June 2001.
  34. ^ "Tel-Aviv suicide bombing at the Dolphin disco-1-Jun-2001". MFA. 2 June 2001. 
  35. ^ "Israeli police: Four dead in Tel Aviv bombing". CNN. 25 February 2005. 
  36. ^ Israel Foreign Ministry, Four Years of Conflict: Israel's war against terrorism, 3 October 2004, p. 28
  37. ^ David Rudge, "Bomb horror hits Tel Aviv disco" Archived December 5, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.,; accessed 2 September 2015.
  38. ^ "Write better papers, faster!". Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  39. ^ "Bush to Arafat: You Must Condemn This Terrible Attack" (in Hebrew). Ynet. 2 June 2001. Retrieved 4 May 2008. 
  40. ^ 14 лет со дня чудовищного теракта в тель-авивском "Дольфи" 01.06.2015 22:41,
  41. ^ "The Palestinian Authority's support of Hamas' suicide terrorism". October 2004. Retrieved 4 May 2008. 
  42. ^ [Decided the fate of Tel Aviv Dolphinarium Решилась судьба тель-авивского дельфинария] 27-12-2014, 01:30, ЛЕОНИД РАБИН
  43. ^ 14 лет со дня чудовищного теракта в тель-авивском "Дольфи" 01.06.2015 22:41,

External links[edit]